After doing most of their offensive work inside during the first half on Tuesday, the Highland Bulldogs took turns dining at the 3-point buffet in the third quarter.
An already double-digit lead quickly became insurmountable after four 3-pointers put things out of reach in a 53-38 victory over Waterloo that moved Highland to 5-0 in the Mississippi Valley Conference.
Those 3-pointers came from Will Michael, Will Greenwald, Luke Thies and Austin Elledge and Waterloo never recovered. Thies scored eight of his team-high 16 points during the first quarter for Highland (11-10) and Elledge tossed in eight of his 13 during the second quarter.
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“They didn’t have any threes in the first half,” Waterloo coach Dane Walter said after his 6-14 team fell to 1-3 in the conference. “They were dribble attacking and got to us on the inside there in the first half, then opened it up and got to us on the outside. They came out hot from the outside (in the second half).
“That’s a pretty good team.”
We’re pretty guard-oriented, but we’ve got to be able to make those shots. We just can’t live and die by them. We can’t stand around and watch each other shoot, either.
Highland coach Matt Elledge on his team’s strong 3-point shooting Tuesday
Highland was coming off a loss to Marion on Saturday at the Triad Mid-Winter Classic and Bulldogs coach Matt Elledge was pleased to see his team come out hungry a few days later.
“We’re pretty guard-oriented, but we’ve got to be able to make those shots,” Elledge said, noting his team’s effective outside display in the third quarter. “We just can’t live and die by them. We can’t stand around and watch each other shoot, either.”
A close game quickly was broken open as Highland’s 15-12 advantage turned into 29-16 by halftime with a 14-4 run in the second quarter. Walter was impressed with Highland’s intensity level.
“They get after it,” he said. “The whole game they’re on you, they look to push the ball ahead and they defend well and rebound well. They out-rebounded us tonight with guys 6-foot (tall) across the board. They work hard and put themselves in a good position.”
Highland blew things open in the middle quarters, outscoring Waterloo 33-12 during that span. Coach Elledge liked his team’s ball movement and ability to find the open man.
“I thought we got some good penetration from Luke and I thought he did a nice job of finding things,” Coach Elledge said. “Will Greenwald (had) one and I think Austin hit one in the corner. We got a few stops and we were able to push the ball and penetrate and be able to kick it out and knock them down.”
Waterloo hit just 16 of its 40 shots (40 percent) and got 14 points from Ross Schrader and 10 from Ben Huels.
“Our offense as been up and down,” Walter said. “Our main Achilles heel would be defensive stops because of rebounds. We’re not rebounding like we need to be. They had five offensive rebounds in the first half and that’s a number we’ve got to take down.”
Matt Elledge said his team must continue to bring an all-out effort if it hopes to hang around for a long time in the postseason.
“That’s one thing that we’ve been working on and we really need to do a good job of, especially if we’re going to try to get out of our regional or have a chance to do anything in the sectional,” he said. “I’m happy with the effort tonight, not so happy with our effort on Saturday night, but I thought the boys bounced back tonight and did a good job.”